Monday, June 12, 2017

Eleven on Eleven

I can hardly believe it, but Sunday was the 11th anniversary of my ordination.

In some ways June 11, 2006 seems like yesterday.  In other ways it seems like a lifetime ago.

Time is funny like that.

In 2006 I had no idea how joyful this calling would be.  Yes it can be challenging.  Yes it can be stressful. It's both of those adjectives and a few more, but the first, most prevalent descriptor of ministry is joyful.  

At Scottsville Baptist we are in a season of joy and yesterday was no exception; so in celebration of my 11th ordination, here are 11 highlights from June 11:

  1. Spirited Discussion of Stewardship in Sunday School.  We're finishing up the book of James.  James doesn't kid around and our discussion didn't either.  The class is serious about faith AND they know how to laugh:  What a fantastic combination! 
  2. Table Display in Worship.  Our treasurer, Pat, arranged a fun visual display of our tithes and offerings at work.  I suggested my salary might be represented by a Barbie and he took my suggestion!  I loved this.
  3. "Katie won't let you fly under the radar."  Said by Pat in worship.  They know me!
  4. Elizabeth Bennett?  My sermon was about beginnings and endings so I started by sharing famous first lines.  The congregation correctly identified Dickens, Melville, and Genesis 1:1, but took a minute on this one:  "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."  "It's one of my favorites!" I said.  "Must be an Austen" they said.  Indeed.  
  5. Baptist Women's Day Rehearsal.  Next Sunday we recognize Baptist Women's Day.  Following worship our ladies rehearsed 'Great is Thy Faithfulness'.  They sang with gusto.  It was great.
  6. Visiting Katherine's house.  Katherine, one of dear seniors, passed away in October.  Her daughter and son-in-law invited me to Katherine's home yesterday.  "You won't believe this," Dorothy said and then showed me to her mama's wood stove.  Inside logs were neatly stacked with crumpled newspaper nestled in every nook and cranny.  95 year-old Katherine was ready for the first snow!  She carried those logs in herself. Katherine was a fabulous, fierce force of a lady!
  7. Party.  One of our families invited me to their son's graduation celebration.  It was atop a mountain with breathtaking views. Tasty BBQ was also involved!  
  8. Handbellz Rehearsal.  We focused on theory, listened to Chopin, and learned about the Circle of Fifths.  It was awesome.  Our director is well-versed in all things music.
  9. 2nd Sunday Fellowship.  Our Discipleship Team kicked off its new '2nd Sunday Fellowship' where all ages and stages eat, play, and learn together.  Bluegrass music and fellowship filled the air. What a great evening!
  10. 2nd Sunday Fellowship Part Two.  I had no responsibilities at this gathering!  Pastors love when this happens, and it's not because we relish being lazy.  On the contrary--it's hard for most of us to keep our mouths shut!  Pastors are happy because healthy churches have invested and involved laity who are eager to move the mission forward.  Way to go Discipleship Team!
  11. Conversations. I talked with congregants of all ages about everything and nothing--about baptism and profession of faith, Disney World, camping, worries, excitement, and family members. I even got to "converse" with our littlest ones who freely toddle into my office.  I hope they always feel welcome to come and talk with me.  
Yesterday was a gift.  I'm grateful to celebrate Eleven on Eleven with Scottsville Baptist Church.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Proverbs 119 or Why You Should Come to Sunday School

Last week I asked our Sunday School class if they knew what was special about Proverbs 119. Most folks seemed hesitant to reply. "Great!" I thought, smiling. "I'll get to drop some sweet knowledge on the class."

"It's the longest chapter in the Bible!!" I proclaimed...except that it's not. It really, really isn't. Proverbs has a grand total of 31 chapters.

I wasn't even in the ballpark, and while I'd love to say I simply misspoke...that would be a lie. I didn't figure out I was wrong until I tried looking up Proverbs 117 (or, according to ME ONLY, the shortest chapter in the Bible).

Just a friendly reminder: If you're afraid to come to Sunday School because you don't know everything about the Bible, remember that your pastor thought Proverbs has 119 chapters.

We're all learners.

The point of Sunday School is not to see who knows the most Bible trivia! Sunday School is about studying, learning, and growing alongside other Christians as we read the Bible together. Sunday School is about building community with fellow believers (what the Bible calls 'koinonia'). Please don't let Sunday School intimidate you! We want you to be part.

Join us in Sunday School! We'll learn together.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

We're having a foot washing?

On Sunday I told the congregation we will be observing Maundy Thursday with a meal and foot washing.  Foot washing will be a new-to-us element in worship, so the initial response was the sound of crickets.   

During Sunday School there were questions.  "Does Scottsville have a pedicure place?  Will we wash feet and THEN eat or the other way around?"  We laughed and made some bunion jokes.  

It's all good.  

So why are we having a foot washing?

First:  I understand your hesitance.  Almost no one likes their own feet. Many of us have a hard time even wearing sandals!  Since a foot washing allows someone to not only smell our feet, but also see our tootsies up closeit's a tough pill to swallow.

I get it.   Before my first foot washing I painted my toenails and scrubbed my feet as if they were auditioning for a podiatry commercial. I was prepared.  

The disciples, however, had no warning.  There was no time for a pedicure, and too bad because their feet were probably caked with mud, excrement, bacteria, and more.  Those were the feet Jesus knelt down to wash during supper.

The disciples were in need of a physical foot washing, but even more soa spiritual washing.  A foot washing reminds us Jesus cleanses us of our sin—from the “smallest” offense to the most egregious of errors. We, like the disciples, are cleansed by Jesus. 

And as hard as it is for us to bare our soles to Jesus, it is much harder to bare our souls to Jesus...so we keep the smelliest parts of us hidden and hope no one notices the stench.  In so doing, we miss out on the joy of forgiveness because we can't bear to be vulnerable...  

which brings me to one of the reasons we're washing feet this Maundy Thursday.  I am naive enough to think it may aid us in confessing our sinsthat the act of being vulnerable with one another will aid us in being vulnerable to Jesus.  

It's worth the price of discomfort.

Another reason:  This tangible act is a clarion call to service.  Jesus washed all the disciples' feeteven Judas' feet.  There is no task beneath the disciple.

Maundy Thursday is an opportunity to remember John 13 together.  It is also an opportunity to experience hospitality, love, and forgiveness.  I challenge you, brothers and sisters, to consider joining us for this special worship service. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

You're Normal, Pastor!

During Lent our congregation joins with the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians for worship and a simple meal on Tuesday nights. Last night was our night to host, so it was my turn to preach.

On Sunday I preached on forgiveness; however by Monday I was picking at an old wound again.  I confessed as much during my Lenten sermon and one of our deacons piped up "You're normal!"

This made me smile--not because I'm proud of my sin--but because he recognized I struggle just like everyone else.

Part of helping one another grow as Jesus' disciples is saying "me too" to one another.  It reminds us we're not alone--not even the pastor.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Meaningful Morning

After talking with the deacons and staff, I decided to try something new this year:  A Drop-In Imposition of Ashes and Blessing.  Since our congregants are of various religious backgrounds, two wise church members told me to talk about the 'what' and 'why' of Ash Wednesday so I spent some time Sunday explaining its importance.

I decided "in for a penny, in for a pound" so the hours were 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. this morning and later today I'll be at the Methodist Church with Pastor Bruce from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.


At 6:30 a.m. the first congregant arrived--a farmer on his way to work. Then came children, seniors, toddlers and mamas, middle-aged adults, long-time church members, and just-joined-on-Sunday folks.

I can't believe how many parents brought their children.  What a gift!  I hadn't imagined how life-giving it would be to talk about forgiveness with 8-year olds or how sweet it would be to repeat aloud words of the season with toddlers:  Cross (CROSS!), Lent (LENT!), Easter (EASTER!).

I hadn't imagined how meaningful it would be to pray with each person, or to read together the good news of God's compassion and forgiveness of our sins (Psalm 103).  What a gift.

Truly the pastorate is such a privilege.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Thank You Church Staff!

Following worship today, the church staff enjoyed a celebratory Christmas lunch out on the town! Table fellowship is an integral part of our church's DNA, so we happily enjoyed a couple of hours eating, laughing, telling stories, and visiting. (Shout out to Amici's for the photo shoot!)



Karen is our secretary.  I can't tell you how many people stop by Karen's office each week. Her gifts of humor, pastoral care, and encouragement make everyone feel welcome.  Also she understands and mostly appreciates my "gift" of sarcasm.  Thank you, Karen!

Janice is our pianist.  Janice has built on our strength of people of all ages to plan a Christmas musical involving 2 year-olds to 90 year-olds. I love it!  Janice and her daughter Angela have started a children's choir. Our little worshippers are joyful and learning to lead. Thank you, Janice!

Hallie is our Coordinator of Family Ministries.  Hallie organizes fellowship and fun. She is skilled in equipping others to lead (discipleship!).  Today she shared plans for a hot cocoa bar at church on Dec. 25th.  PERFECT!  Her enthusiasm is infectious. Thank you, Hallie!

Thanks be to God for these ladies.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Songs of the Season

At Scottsville Baptist Church we kick off the holiday season by making Advent wreaths.  On Sunday we lit the first purple candle. Soon the sanctuary will be adorned with greenery and a tree of Chrismons.  Musicals, parties, caroling, missions, and candlelit services will fill December with joy.

Christmas is also great for all the holly, jolly Hallmark-y reasons.  I can quote Elf and own a Clark W. Griswold t-shirt.  Christmas is my jam.  I love the holidays and I'm a glass half full lady; however for these first days of the Christian new year I listen to the contemplative, serious carols of the season.

The Christmas story in Matthew is not all tinsel and bows.  Joseph was told in a dream that his family must leave Bethlehem.  Herod was foaming at the mouth to destroy the Christ child, so in the dead of night Joseph woke his family and they hightailed it to Egypt.  The holy family were refugees on the run. 

Herod went on to commit atrocities so evil we don't like to speak them aloud any time of the year--much less at Christmas.  Part of my Advent discipline is to listen to Coventry Carol and mourn that the world was not and is not as it should be.

Listening to serious carols during Advent is a way of lamenting brokenness--then and now.  It is also a prayerful way of lifting up and remembering those who are not in a holly, jolly way this season.  They sit beside us in the pews and next to us at work.  People grieve the loss of loved ones.  Ornaments and traditions hold memories--some of which are painful.  Every family has broken relationships--sometimes seemingly beyond repair. The plight of refugees is real.  Fleeing oppressors did not end with the holy family's journey to Egypt. 

Pray this season to notice those for whom Christmas is complicated.  Reach out to the lonely and weary.  Make room at your table.  Visit folks who are missing a spouse.  Don't insist people emote in certain ways.  Feel free to be cheerful, but make room grieving and tears.

Seek ways to aid refugees in your neighborhood.  Look out for the widows and widowers and orphans.  Give to missions and non-profits who minister to those in need.  Read the entire Christmas story and reach out to the world.

Make room for serious carols during Advent.  It's important.  

"...and in His name all oppression shall cease."